The Great Hall

The Great Hall The Great Hall in 1865 Lincoln's Cooper Union Address in 1860 President Clinton spoke at the 2006 Commencement Ceremony In 2008 President Obama, then a senator, gave a speech in The Great Hall
The Great Hall

Upcoming Events & Exhibitions

  • A Celebration of the Life and Work of Philip Levine

    A Celebration of the Life and Work of Philip Levine

    A free, public tribute to the life and work of American poet Philip Levine (1928-2015) will feature a variety of poets and writers reciting his works

  • Thrive: A Book Discussion

    Thrive: A Book Discussion

    Nobel-prize-winning economist Paul Krugman hosts a free, public discussion with Richard Layard & David M. Clark, co-authors of "Thrive: How Better Mental Health Care Transforms Lives and Saves Money"

  • The Law of the Land

    The Law of the Land

    Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law at Yale University, discusses his new book subtitled, "A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic," in a free, public lecture

  • Between Debt & the Devil: A Book Discussion

    Between Debt & the Devil: A Book Discussion

    A free, public talk between Martin Wolf of the Financial Times and Adair Turner on his new book, subtitled, "Money, Credit, and Fixing Global Finance"

The Great Hall of The Cooper Union has stood for more than a century as a bastion of free speech and a witness to the flow of American History and ideas. When the hall opened in 1858, more than a year in advance of the completion of the institution, it quickly became a mecca for all interested in serious discussion and debate of the vital issues of the day.

The Great Hall was the platform for some of the earliest workers' rights campaigns and for the birth of the NAACP, the women's suffrage movement and the American Red Cross. To the Great Hall's podium has come a pageant of famous Americans — rebels and reformers, poets and presidents. Before they were elected, Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt and Barack Obama all spoke there. Besides Woodrow Wilson, only one incumbent president has spoken in the Great Hall: William Jefferson Clinton, who, on May 12, 1993, delivered a major economic address on reducing the federal deficit. And, during the past century's times of tremendous upheaval, it was through meetings in Cooper's famous auditorium that the politics and legislation necessary to build a humane city took shape.

The Great Hall is located in The Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues.

The Great Hall can be rented for events. For inquiries about renting The Great Hall contact Christine Sarkissian, manager, rental programs, at 212-353-4196 or

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.